By Nancy Liebrecht
Liebrecht is a retired landscape architect and environmental scientist. She lives in Fries.
Morgan Griffith in his Oct. 7, newsletter, opens with self-congratulatory paragraphs about what he is doing for the Ninth District. None of his efforts, however, have produced any discernible positive change to life in Grayson County during the seven years that I have been here. Access to healthcare is not better. Infrastructure has not been substantially improved. There is no significant growth in local manufacturing, and pitiful cost of living increases in my Social Security check have not kept pace with rising prices at the Galax Walmart. The latter problem, rising prices, is attributable to the trade war precipitated by President Trump, who has Mr. Griffith’s unqualified support.
In the newsletter, Mr. Griffith offers breathless praise for research at Virginia Tech in satellite technology, which he expects will be used to improve rural broadband. Scientific research is great, but I will likely expire before these satellites are deployed. A better idea might be to rescind that huge tax cut that Mr. Griffith and his Republican colleagues gave rich folks and put the retrieved money toward plowing in fiber optic cable throughout Southwest Virginia. This is existing technology that has provided fast internet in other rural areas.
After touting all of his hard work, Griffith bemoans what he calls the “partisan distraction” of the impeachment inquiry. Presumably, despite passing more than 50 bills since January, the Democrats have now, according to Mr. Griffith, launched an investigation into something that should not be distracting them from passing even more bills. He goes on to say that Mr. Trump’s telephone conversation with the Ukrainian president was perfectly appropriate. Finally he equates President Trump’s threat to withhold aid in exchange for dirt on Joe Biden with Biden’s threat to withhold aid if the previous Ukrainian president did not fire a corrupt prosecutor.
This is the defense that children use when caught stealing candy. “It is okay for me to do it because Jimmy did it too.” No, guilt is not mitigated because other people commit the same crime.
Vice President Biden pressured Ukrainian President Poroshenko to fire the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, because Mr. Shokin was not prosecuting corruption — not to stop an alleged investigation into Hunter Biden. Further, Vice President Biden had in this endeavor the support of our western allies and institutions such as the IMF, all of whom had been giving money to Ukraine and were dismayed by continuing corruption there.
Even so, assuming Mr. Biden’s intentions were corrupt, this would in no way excuse President Trump’s actions. Donald Trump picked up the phone on July 25, called Ukrainian President Zelensky and asked for a favor. He dangled much-needed military aid to a poor country at war with Russian backed forces within its borders in return for help in his reelection campaign. He asked for “dirt“ on his chief political rival, a declared candidate for the presidency, and by the way, would President Zelensky drum up evidence that the Russians really did not interfere in the 2016 election?
That Russia interfered in our election has been well established by our intelligence services and by the 25 indictments that the Mueller team secured against Russian agents. Mr. Trump was essentially asking the president of another country to fabricate evidence that would personally benefit him and perhaps lift the Russian cloud hanging over his presidency. Equally, asking for an investigation of the Bidens in the absence of any evidence that Joe Biden pressured the Ukrainians to lay off his son does nothing to advance U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine. It would only tarnish a presidential candidate who was beating Mr. Trump by a significant margin in all major polls.
For 28 years, U.S. foreign policy has been to support the development of a stable democratic government in a country that is a buffer between an aggressive Russia and our allies in Western Europe. It is in our national interest that Ukraine not become a Russian vassal state. By withholding military aid unless the current government gave him what he personally needed, Donald Trump undermined the established foreign policy and security of the United States.
As an attorney, Morgan Griffith should know that there are laws and regulations prohibiting even a president from using his public office to extract personal favors and other items of value from foreigners. He should have also known that the only entity benefiting from this sordid mess is Russia whose goal is to destabilize both the Ukraine and the United States. Apparently he does not care.